The Tour to Niagara is On!

Yes, I’m this excited! I have a couple of trips planned, all within Canada, but still, I’m this excited. The wine tour to the Niagara region in Ontario, including a 2-night stay in beautiful Quebec City and the 1000 Islands Boat Tour is going ahead for October 2nd. And this is where we are staying in Niagara Falls.

Embassy Suites by Hilton

Lots of exciting news this week. I am getting on a plane Thursday for the first time since Christmas 2019 and heading to Newfoundland for 10 days. And then, October 2nd, we are leaving Halifax for a wonderful 7-night tour that I would love you to come on. Come join us, there’s room, and we are going to have so much fun. If you like videos, Richard and I did a video a while back explaining the full details of the tour, and you can view it here. Richard is the President and Director of Fun for Atlantic Tours, and honest to God, he’s so much fun, you would think he was a Newfoundlander himself. LOL

I’m going to share the readers digest version of the tour.

Manoir Victoria Quebec City

First we leave Halifax on a brand new comfortable motorcoach bus and head to Quebec City for 2 nights. We will be staying at the Manoir Victoria Hotel in the heart of Old Quebec City. There we will be given a guided tour, we will have some free time to explore and we are going to discover some great food and wine. I have never been to old Quebec City before so I’m super excited about this part of the trip.

And then it’s on to Niagara Falls. We are staying at the beautiful hotel seen above, the Embassy Suites by Hilton. Over the next 3-night stay, we will enjoy a guided tour of Niagara Falls, plus we will be visiting 6 of the top wineries in the Niagara region. Not all in one day of course, but the best part is we will have a designated driver, so we can enjoy these wineries to the fullest. Some of the wineries include

Wayne Gretzky Winery

Wayne Gretzky not only has an award winning winery, but he also has a whiskey tasting room on site, in this spectacular 20,000 square foot facility.

We will also be visiting Peller Estates, along with 4 other wineries. You can visit 2 wineries, or you can come to all 6, it’s completely up to you. 13 Meals: 4 Dinners, 2 Lunches, 7 Breakfasts are included in the price, and we are going to have so much fun. Come with us.

Thousand Island boat tour

We are going to finish it up with the Thousand Island Boat Tour before we head back home. You can join us from anywhere. Check out the details at http://www.atlantictours.com. You’ll probably talk to Peggy and she can help with any questions you might have.

So, last week I told you I had some ribs marinating, and would give you the recipe this week.

Ribs marinated for 10 hours

Marinades can change, and I never measure amounts. Here’s what I put in my marinade. You can mix and match, or use whatever you like. Brown Sugar, Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and BBQ sauce. You can use any sauce for the marinade, but when you are finalizing the ribs on the grill, use a good thick one, it will stick to the ribs better. Then set your oven to 275-degrees and slow cook those ribs for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Then I put them on the grill, on in-direct heat. What I mean by that, is one side of my BBQ is on, and the other is not. I put the ribs on the off side, to allow them to finish cooking, slowly. That’s when I’m basting with my good BBQ sauce. This is the one I like, Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky.

I also put the ribs directly on the heat for a minute or two each side. I let the heat carmelize those sugars from both the sauce and the marinade, and put those real nice grill marks on your ribs. Did I take a picture after my ribs were done. No, I was too hungry. Trust me, they turned out great. And this is the wine I had with them.

Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon

Normally, I like a big bold Zinfandel with ribs, but this time a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon also did the trick. This is actually a blend, even though the majority of the wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon. That is the main grape of the wine, but there is a small bit of Merlot and Zinfandel in this wine. It was rich and decadent, and I just loved it with the ribs. It felt like a real splurge, even though it was under $20 a bottle. To my Newfoundland friends, you can get it there, it’s $1 more.

Corner Brook, NL

I just wanted to let everyone know there will be no wine blogs for the next 2 weeks. Heading to my hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland on Thursday and I’m there till Sunday August 2nd. I’ll tell you all about my trip when I get back.

Stay safe, enjoy Summer. Cheers

The Winds (Wines?) of Elsa

Elsa hit my deck hard

The Winds of Elsa? or the Wines of Elsa? Either way, Tropical Cyclone Elsa hit the Halifax area last night and while some people didn’t get any damage, my patio wasn’t quite as lucky. Yes, this is a picture of my brand new barbecue with a full 20-lb tank of propane inside, and yes, it was attached to the deck by 2 bungee cords. Didn’t matter, Elsa sent all my herb plants flying and my BBQ toppling. So that’s what I’m doing today, clean up. How was your experience with Elsa? People who live on the front of our building didn’t receive any wind at all. I guess I was in the path. Oh, and slept through it all.

Apparently that was me last night. Let’s look at some great food and wine.

First, a couple of new food dishes.

Chicken Flautas
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

My friends Mike & Kim in Newfoundland introduced me to chicken flautas 15 years ago. Delicious. Boiled or roasted chicken, (You can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. ) shredded, add sauteed onions and garlic. Lots of garlic, they are garlicky! Add salsa and cheese and roll them up in a tortilla shell. And then fry them in a pan till browned on all 4 sides. These flautas, my Mom’s recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, and some rice made for a great weekday meal. I have ribs marinating today, and I’ll share those with you next week. Put them in the marinade last evening, that’s going to be tasty.

I’m going to share some great wines you can have with foods based in a sauce, in this case, a sweet and sour sauce.

A Rose is a great choice

Angie with Arrogant Frog Rose

Arrogant Frog is a great Rose wine and a fan favorite among my friends. It’s made with the Syrah grape, has wonderful acidity and is a great way to compliment a food with a heavier sauce. Perfectly priced at $17.

Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel

Another grape that goes well with a sweet and sour sauce would be saucy Zinfandel. Zinfandel’s peppery notes pairs very well with the smoky components of a sauce. You can also check for an American ‘red blend’, as many of them contain Zinfandel. For my Newfoundland friends, here’s a couple of great Zinfandel wines.

Gnarly Head Zinrfandel

Gnarly Head Zinfandel is an old vine Zinfandel, which means the flavors are really enhanced. It is found everywhere in Canada and is priced under $23 a bottle.

Cupcake Red Blend

A wine like the Cupcake Red Blend is a Zinfandel based red wine with Merlot & Petite Sirah added to make it a blend. Delicious and priced between $17 and $19. I looked for this yesterday at the NSLC on my street, but they were sold out of it. It would have been a great wine to have with my ribs tonight.

And last but not least, a brand new wine I had last night. Loved it. You have to let it breathe.

I had the 2015

When I first opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The wood overpowered. So I let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and boy was it enjoyable. You need to either let this breathe for 20 – 30 minutes or decant it. Keep in mind, it was bottled 6 years ago in 2015, so in a case like that, when you first open the bottle, oak would be predominant. This wine was only aged 3 months in French Oak barrels so it shouldn’t be oaky. This is a beautiful Super Tuscan blend from Italy, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, in equal parts. Beautifully balanced with lots of body. Priced under $20 a bottle, I enjoyed it.

Well I have to dance myself down my hallway, I have my barbecue grates soaking in the bath tub.

Till next week, Cheers

I’m A Fool for the Cool

I’m not a fan of humidity

Although it’s cool here in Halifax today, we had a few really humid days this past week. Temperatures were like 28° with a humidex of 35°, that’s a little uncomfortable for me. In true eastern Canada fashion, however, temperatures hit a high of 13° yesterday.
My heart goes out to people in the western portion of our country, where temperatures are in the high 40s and low ‘50’s, and for our readers outside of Canada that’s Celsius degrees. Lytton, BC hit the highest temperature in North America, earning a mention on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Sadly, a fire evacuated and burnt much of the town, and our hearts are going out to everyone there.

With temperatures that high, I barbecued during those couple of days.

This pork chop was a new recipe, and a winner! The easy to make glaze consisted of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and a little orange juice. Tasty! that marinade would also work on chicken.

If you’ve been watching the Food Network lately, you’ve seen iconic Canadian Chef Mark McEwan promote this wine. It was also featured on a couple of episodes of the latest Top Chef Canada. The reason being, Sauvignon Blanc is so food friendly. This Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, it’s from New Zealand, and was the very first wine I ever got tested on in my training to become a Sommelier. Gorgeous flavors of passion fruit and grapefruit, make it a great summer wine. It pairs fantastic with seafood, and also your favorite summer salad.

For my friends in Newfoundland, there is a wide variety of Stoneleigh products available, including a sparkling. If any of my readers try that particular wine, can you let me know what you thought? I am going to get home this Summer, and would love to hear opinions.

Valpolicella Ripasso

Ripasso in Italian means ‘to pass again’, and that’s what happens with the Valpolicella grape juice. It is ‘passed over’ Amarone skins and picks up those rich deep flavors of the Amarone. This is a great BBQ wine, with cherry flavors from the Valpolicella and fig and chocolate from the Amarone skins. It’s on sale here right now, so it’s a great time to try it. We don’t have access to it here, but my friends in Newfoundland can get a dry Zonin Rose Brut. I’ll be trying that when I go home this Summer.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Summer has Landed!

Wine Goals!

Many people here in Canada really look forward to summer. Maybe because our winters tend to last a little longer. The weather has warmed up, the kids finished school yesterday and as we open up from our 3rd wave, people are talking about going to see family and friends throughout Atlantic Canada. What does summer look like for you? Is it camping? Is it barbecuing? Is it sipping wine on the patio? (Yes!). If you’re like me, it could be all of those things and many more.
I want to share some favorite summer wines, but first I’d like to tell you about a new refreshing cocktail I tried for the first time this week .

On a hot Wednesday evening this week, I tried the new vodka citrus drink from Black Fly. Black Fly is made here in Canada. Do you want to know how hot it was? There were about 12 ice cubes in this glass before I poured. This was tart, refreshing, and not too sweet. I have a few from this company to try, including vodka cranberry and vodka punch. They also do drinks with rum and gin, and you can get a variety pack as well. Perfect for Summer and available in all 4 Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada.

Speaking of summer, did you know I do really good baby back ribs? I’m kind of known for them to my close family and friends . I have a nephew Brady, who works at IOC in Labrador City, who is trying to duplicate my recipe. I made a rack of ribs this past week, because it does take several hours to get delicious fall off the bone ribs.

If you were to ask me about one of my favourite meals, it is baby back ribs, crispy wings, rice and corn on the cob. It’s really too early for corn on the cob here in Nova Scotia, so I made this dish with corn, carrots, apples, red onion and bacon, which turned out to be really delicious. (I cooked the red onion in the bacon fat))

The key to great ribs, chicken or any kind of pork is marinating.

My marinade was brown sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper, a little bit of hot sauce, maple syrup, a little bit of orange juice and barbeque sauce. I like them to sit in the marinade for about six hours and then I slow cook them in a 250° oven for 3 hours and then I finish them off on the grill. Yummy!
Here’s the wine I enjoyed with this meal.

La Baume Syrah

Rarely will you ever see the French call this grape by its other name, Shiraz. They prefer Syrah, and this one from Domaine De La Baume is wonderful, and it’s around $18.
I promised my friend Daphne in Newfoundland last weekend that I would feature wines that she could get in Newfoundland. She told me she reads the blog, but she can’t get most of the wines I feature. Although you can’t get this particular Syrah, you can get one from the same region in the same price range.

I am definitely going to Newfounfland this summer to visit my family, and I promise to try this wine while I’m there. Like the La Baume, this Syrah is also from the Languedoc region of France and comes in under $18. I can’t wait to try this wine when I go home.

Last but not least, I am going to finish the blog with a refreshing rosé wine, and yes it’s available throughout Atlantic Canada including for my friends in Newfoundland

The Pelee Island Rose blush is a great wine for Summer. It also brings to light how much more we pay here in Atlantic Canada for wine from even the rest of Canada. This wine is $12.95 in Ontario, it is $18.99 here in Nova Scotia and $19.99 in Newfoundland. Hard to believe isn’t it, that’s a big difference. However some great news for my Newfoundland friends, it’s currently $2 off there! It’s not a dry Rose wine, it has some effervescence. But it’s very food friendly and wonderful if you’re just sipping on the patio.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week Cheers.

Wines for Dear Old Dad

My Dad

This marks my first Father’s Day since my dad passed last July, 3 months before he turned 90. It’s been a year of firsts, his first birthday, first Christmas and now first Father’s Day without him. He was a wonderful dad, and always had a smile on his face. He lived a great life and we all miss him very much.
Dear old Dad wasn’t very much of a wine drinker, but he was the first one to pour me and mom a glass. As a matter of fact, my Dad always went to the store and got Mom’s wine. it was after my Dad had passed, that my Mom went into the liquor store for the first time and bought her own wine. That was a new experience for her. He also loved great food.

I have to share with you the chicken that changed my life LOL. Anyone who was willing to listen this past week, I told them about this chicken. I brined my first chicken last weekend.

I took out a chicken early Saturday morning out of my freezer to thaw. Later that afternoon I boiled water, sugar, brown sugar, peppercorns, molasses, lemon, rosemary, thyme, & garlic. Once it cooled to room temperature, I added more cold water. It’s very important you do not put raw chicken in warm water, because it will create a safety hazard. Then I put the pot with the chicken and my flavored brine in my fridge and left it there until late Sunday afternoon. You can brine for 6 to 12 hours, however because I was having this chicken for Sunday supper, I brined for 24 hours. Then, because it was a beautiful evening, I fired up the barbeque and put it on the rotisserie.
I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because once it reached an internal temperature if 165° and it rested, I carved the chicken and started eating. O.M.G! It was that good, and I ate so much, I forgot to take a picture. It was so good I almost went door to door in my apartment building to say “You have to try this”! But I didn’t.

Let’s talk about some cocktails. On a beautiful sunny day, I know many Dad’s enjoy a beer while working the grill. So for Father’s Day we are also going to feature a beer. Now, here’s one of my favorite beers. Made here in the Maritimes.

Crafty Radler

If someone had told me a few years ago I would love beer with grapefruit and tangerine, I don’t know if I would have believed them. But I do! Made by Pumphouse Brewery in Moncton, New Brunswick, this delicious blend of beer, grapefruit and tangerine hits the spot on hot Summer day.

At the NSLC yesterday I noticed many of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay wines were on sale. These are fabulous for sipping on patios as the weather warms up, or enjoying with your favorite chicken or seafood. These wines truly reflect the terroir of Nova Scotia and I’ve never had one I didn’t like. Some of the ones on sale this week were Benjamin Bridge, L’Acadie and Grand Pre, just to name a few.

And last but not least, I tried a new red this past week and it was yummy.

Delicious and on sale right now

What a pleasant surprise this was. The Amado Sur Red Blen is an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. I looked for it on our NSLC website and couldn’t find it anywhere, however, it’s there. I saw it again last night when I was there. It’s in the Argentina section and it’s on sale right now for $16.99. Jon Thorsen who writes my personal favorite wine blog, the Reverse Wine Snob, check it out here. Jon started this blog because like me, he feels wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. He calls it a delightfully rich and fruity blend, and says it’s vegan friendly.

The wine-maker says its a great wine to go with steak, and it would be, but I had a little something of many items on my plate last Saturday night, and it went great.

Rice, wings, taco boats & a skewer

I do like variety on my plate, and yes it’s unusual I don’t have a vegetable on it. Don’t judge! It was Saturday night.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there. Have a safe wonderful weekend.

Till next week, Cheers